BEST INDEPENDENT THEATER (2007)

Emigrant Theater

Emigrant is only two years old but the company has damn near established a brand name in staging hip, gotta-see area premieres. Emigrant also has a knack for luring hungry young talent to the kinds of roles that establish a performer's craft and identity. Last year the Emigrant crew tackled Jordan Harrison's absurdist impossibility Kid-Simple with appropriately goofy aplomb. The troupe returned this winter with Will Eno's poetically antisocial Thom Pain, which found director Jessica Finney sparking a performance from Casey Greig that shocked and seduced in equal measure. (We still get the willies from the memory of Grieg scanning the lit-up audience for someone to torment.) Emigrant provides proof to other young companies that you can go far by picking up little-known scripts (by the likes of underrecognized talents like Harrison, Eno, Melanie Marnich), then staging them with a dramaturge's attention to detail.

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